Fiona Woolf

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Person.png Fiona Woolf   WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Fiona Woolf (cropped).jpg
BornCatherine Fiona Swain
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Alma materKeele University
ReligionChurch of England
SpouseNicholas Woolf

Employment.png Lord Mayor of London

In office
8 November 2013 - 7 November 2014

Catherine Fiona Woolf is a British lawyer and the 686th Lord Mayor of London (for 2013–14), who serves as the global ambassador for UK-based financial and business services.

Woolf served as President of the Law Society of England and Wales for 2006–07. She is a member of the Competition Commission, Alderman for the Ward of Candlewick in the City of London since 2007 and was Sheriff of London for 2010–11.

On 29 September 2013, she won the election to become Lord Mayor of London, only the second time in its 800-year history that a woman has held this office.[1] She succeeded Sir Roger Gifford as Lord Mayor on 8 November 2013 during the annual "Silent Ceremony" at London's Guildhall.[2]


Fiona Woolf was educated at St Denis School (subsequently part of St Margaret's School), Edinburgh[3] before going to read Law and Psychology at Keele University (BA).[4] She completed her Master's degree at the University of Strasbourg graduating with a Diploma in Comparative Law (QLD).


Woolf qualified as a solicitor in 1973 and worked as an assistant at Clifford Chance until 1978. She then moved to CMS Cameron McKenna becoming a partner in 1981 until 2004. She now acts as a consultant to that firm[5] and is a Senior Adviser to London Economics International LLC.

In 2001–02 Woolf was awarded a Senior Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Business and Government.[6] While at Harvard, Woolf wrote a book on attracting investment in electricity transmission systems: Global Transmission Expansion: Recipes for Success (2003).[7]

In her valedictory speech on stepping down as President of the Law Society of England and Wales she said that in her year as President she had met with "98 of the top 100 firms and another 25 or so beyond that". She was "delighted to have met with so many top firms...they had a huge number of ideas about what we should be doing for them".[8]

Woolf is an Honorary Bencher of Middle Temple, a Court Assistant of the Solicitors' and the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers companies, and an Honorary Court Assistant of the Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants. She is also a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers, Worshipful Company of Arbitrators, Worshipful Company of Marketors and the Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers companies.

The City's second female Lord Mayor, following Dame Mary Donaldson (Lord Mayor 1983–84),[9] Woolf was interviewed by Cathy Newman for a Daily Telegraph profile article, taking the opportunity to promote one of her mayoral campaigning themes, namely the furtherance of women in executive careers and to help correct the traditional imbalance between the sexes in senior City of London positions. She makes regular media appearances about the Lord Mayor's role in welcoming the world to London,[10][11] and ventured onto a catwalk at the Old Bailey during London Fashion Week.[12]

Child sexual abuse panel inquiry

On 5 September 2014 it was announced that Woolf would chair the 2014 United Kingdom child sexual abuse panel inquiry that would examine how the UK's institutions have handled their duties to protect children from sexual abuse.[13] On 21 October 2014, Woolf disclosed that she lived in the same street in London as Lord Brittan and had invited the Conservative peer and his wife to dinner on three occasions. Lord Brittan was Home Secretary in 1984 when ministers were handed a dossier on alleged high-profile paedophiles; he has insisted that the proper procedures were followed. In total, she had dined with Lord Brittan and his family five times since 2008 and had also had a coffee with Lady Brittan on a "small number of occasions". Woolf further disclosed that she had been involved in the past with bodies with which the Brittans had also had involvement. The BBC reported that survivors of child abuse were increasingly concerned about her apparent links to Lord Brittan, and Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who campaigned for the inquiry, said he thought Woolf should resign. Woolf made the disclosures to MPs ahead of her appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee, saying she was aware of "speculation gaining traction on social media" about her links with the Brittans and she wanted to "go the extra distance to make sure I have dug out every possible connection with someone who is essentially one of thousands of people I know in the City. […] Do I have a close association with them (the Brittans), the answer is no. Let us remind ourselves that this is not an inquiry about Lord Brittan but about hundreds of institutions and frankly thousands of systemic failures."[14]

On 22 October 2014, the BBC reported that it had seen a judicial review application launched by a victim of historical child sexual abuse which challenged the choice of Woolf as the chair of the child sexual abuse panel inquiry on the basis that she is not impartial, has no relevant expertise and may not have time to discharge her duties. The judicial review hearing could be held before the end of 2014.[15]

Charitable work and other interests

Woolf is involved in supporting the work of a number of charitable and other organisations. She is a trustee of Raleigh International,[16] a governor of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama,[17] a trustee of the Friends of Oxford Shakespeare Company,[18] and a member of the Parochial Church Council of St Clement Eastcheap. She is also chairman of the Chelsea Opera Group Trust,[19] and is actively involved in the operation, fundraising and co-ordination of its volunteers, as well as being a member of its choir. She is a member of the Royal Automobile Club.[20]


External links